On Monday, July 21st, The Gigabots made a small trip to North Kansas City to visit the First Robotics team at Staley High School. The group of twenty five students—from freshmen to seniors—first had the opportunity to play with with our bots, Prime and Hans, using tablets. Camilla, however, had been disassembled since her trip to New York. The students separated into a few groups, divided up tasks, and quickly rebuilt her.
Students Learning about The Gigabots
Students then learned how to implement the touch sensor into programming robot behaviors. When the touch sensor button was pressed on the specified bot, for example, the bot would beep, or it would sing, or certain motors would move. They were able to easily create any combinations of responses they could think of and then test them out.
Programming The Gigabots Remotely in Realtime
Special thanks to the Staley High School Engineering department and engineering teacher Aaron Dalton for helping to arrange this pilot as well as the students of the Staley First Robotics team for joining us!
In the past two weeks, the dashboard has grown more powerful than ever before. Its console-based text editor can now make use of the Gigabots API, meaning you can control the Gigabots with simple commands, for a start. More importantly, you can even program larger routines by using multiples of these commands together. In addition, the dashboard’s control panel is more flexible and runs more efficiently.
It’s fun controlling a robot from your phone or computer, but what about when you want to tune into another bot? You can now select a different Gigabot from a drop-down list of bots currently running. Your dashboard instantly updates to the dashboard seen by other users controlling this same bot, and you’ll start receiving its telemetry now instead.
The Gigabots have flown to Silicon Valley this week for the US Ignite Application Summit. We’ll be presenting on Thursday at 11:15 am on the main stage as part of the morning session, ‘Advanced Wireless: Untethering Your Gig.’
If you’re not in Silicon Valley, you can check out The Gigabots at the fourth annual Kansas City Maker Faire at Union Station this weekend. Come visit us there, at the Mozilla booth, between 10am and 6pm on Saturday, June 28 or between 10am and 5pm on Sunday, June 29.
We’re building two new robots this week, so that Gigabot Prime, our flagship bot, has some more friends to play with. We’re also preparing some demos, so our Gigabots all have things to do, albeit play and work, which they equally enjoy.
We have been connecting Gigabots to the Internet for a few weeks now. While the robots are overjoyed to send and receive raw data, humans demand more. As a result, we have created The Gigabots Dashboard, a user interface for controlling Gigabots and receiving realtime telemetry.
Phaser is pretty sweet.
Phaser is also widely used on mobile devices, tablets, and desktops. This gives us confidence it will “just work” everywhere, leaving us more time to add features and change batteries.
Our first attempt at the dashboard was a bit rough, but it contained most of the core remote-control and telemetry functionality. After adding a few lines of code to connect the Dashboard to Big Bang, we fired up Gigabot Prime, our first LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robot, and we were connected.
As expected, we quickly found many areas to improve on for a second version of The Gigabots Dashboard. To more easily control a wheeled Gigabot, there is now a feature to group multiple motors together and control them as a single unit. The Dashboard is also more device-friendly, with keymaps for desktops, and touch controls for mobile devices and tablets.
The team has enjoyed developing the Dashboard and the custom firmware. We even got to experience a rare moment of “it-just-worked-the-first-time” when connecting the V1 dashboard to the V1 firmware. We probably should have saved this luck for later.
This week we will start working on APIs that allow Gigabots to be programmed directly in browser. This will hopefully bring a lot of fun and instant feedback to robotics programming.